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As we close out 2019 it’s becoming easy to see how technology has changed, not only in the evolution of individual tech concepts like artificial intelligence, 5G and cloud computing, but also how tech has reshaped our businesses, our jobs and our lives.
But how about IT as a profession? Is the IT staff doomed by automation and shadow IT? Not likely! We entered 2019 with 11.8 million IT workers employed in the U.S., up by 261K from a year earlier, according to CompTIA, and that was with 3.7 million open job postings at the time. There’s no sign that the IT field will be shrinking any time soon.
No, IT isn’t going away, but it’s undergoing dramatic changes. We can’t put a finger on an exact date, but at some time in the past year or three, executives and business unit leaders, even common line workers, began knocking on IT’s door with new types of requests.
It wasn’t about lost passwords or cracked notebook screens. Rather, it was about using technology to run a better business. Sure, some of the requests merely echoed industry buzzwords and talking points: “We need AI,” “We need automation,” “We need to improve the customer experience,” “We need digital transformation.” But, IT finally took steps toward being strategic. It’s what some experts envisioned almost 40 years ago when the CIO title became popular, information becoming a corporate asset and a tool to drive efficiency and revenue.
We’re at a point in time when IT professionals, from staff to CIO, are expected to understand which technologies can help the business make or save money, and how. Those emerging tech concepts even change the day-to-day IT operations. Operations personnel who once monitored data center status may now be evaluating potential cloud providers. Project managers who once fretted over deadline dates can play an active role in the DevOps process with analytics that measure the quality, not just the status of new software. Chatbots guide users through the mundane password reset process, freeing up the support person to test or implement new mobile devices and apps.
All of this doesn’t mean that everyone is thrilled with the shakeup of IT. Some IT pros, including many who are skilled in configuring servers and PC break-fix roles have lost their jobs, and change always brings a bit of dread and pain. Yet new IT roles are being created. Many of the 3.7 million job postings were for work in growing tech companies, not just traditional end user organizations. IT pros who once supported email systems and financials in transportation or insurance companies often are a good fit for product development/integration roles in Silicon Valley and the regional innovation centers around the country.
Even within traditional user companies, IT pros are taking on advisory roles rather than just punching tickets.
In this feature we look at 2019’s tech trends as illustrated in some of InformationWeek’s most read content, and we try to put into perspective what a year’s worth of tech innovation and adoption means to all of us.
[The InformationWeek editorial team of James Connolly, Cathleen Gagne, Jessica Davis and Joao-Pierre Ruth contributed to this report.]
Jim Connolly is a versatile and experienced technology journalist who has reported on IT trends for more than two decades. As editorial director of InformationWeek and Network Computing, he oversees the day-to-day planning and editing on the site. Most recently he was editor … View Full Bio
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